The second hotel I had the thrill of staying at while in London recently was the Halkin by Como. A stones throw away from Hyde Park, this 41 roomed luxury boutique hotel is as close to perfect as you can get.
I spent the day walking around London in the rain and generally trying to pack as much in as possible. It involved a trip to Borough Market, a visit to the east end, and then a tour of some of my favourite food shops in Oxford street. Arriving a little haggard and flopping onto the king size bed in my ultra luxurious suite was literally like arriving in heaven for me. My few hours of languishing in this beautiful hotel room – which cost a million pounds to build (in the 80ies), was some of the only downtime I had on my trip. I took a long bubble bath in the marbled bathroom with underfloor heating and heated towel rails, logged onto the hotels Wi-Fi and kicked back until dinner.
The Asian-inflected style and carefully crafted lighting create a contemporary atmosphere that cause you to instantly relax and feel calm. The hotel also has a spa and a gym with yoga, or you could just take a walk or jog through the surrounding Green and Hyde Parks.
Dinner was a spectacular feast in the Hotels Ametsa restaurant and I quickly understood why it was awarded a Michelin Star in the 2014 Michelin Guide. This Basque restaurant is knocking out some seriously interesting food. I was invited – with a friend, to enjoy an eight course tasting menu paired with Spanish wine which was nothing short of a sensational. Ametsa is a unique collaboration between The Halkin and a team that includes chef Elena Arzak– voted Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef earlier this year, along with her father Juan Mari Arzak, Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez. Father and daughter hold three Michelin stars at the original Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. The restaurant was ranked 8 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Sergio Sanz Blanco takes on the role of head chef at Ametsa.
We started off the meal with four aperitivos, including chorizo in a mango ravioli, baby tomatoes covered and cooked with salted crispy Iberico ham, and Scorpion-fish cakes wrapped in crispy kataifi. This paired beautifully with the Albarino Ria Baixas 20112.
We then nibbled our way through three entree’s: scallops and cassava soufflé, king prawns and spider crab on a bed of sweetcorn purée topped with feather-light crispy noodles, and a delectable slowly cooked and deep fried poached egg with squid noodles on a squid ink sauce. Fascinating and delicious.
The fish course was John Dory, perfectly cooked with fried enoki mushrooms and a beetroot and cauliflower sauce.
The meat course was called ‘Following the Duck’s Footprint’ and was a rare duck breast with parsley water and goji berries which I thought were a beautiful combination of flavours and textures.
The dessert course blew me a way. First up was a pre-dessert of what looked like two brown pebbles on a bed of sand with some sort of berry jelly, but was actually white chocolate moonstones encasing a Cointreau liquid centre on black and white sesame seed sugar with wine jelly.
Dessert one was clove custard, poached pineapple ice-cream on an almond crumble with burnt milk skin. Yes, exactly, milk skin cooked to form ultra thin wafers which created a delightful textural component to the dish.
The final dessert was just called ‘passionate’ – and was a slice of warm passion fruit cake with fresh cheese ice cream, fluffy cooked milk skin on a passion fruit sauce. A textural adventure with warm and cold, crispy and soft elements.
A final plate of sweet nibbles to round off the meal were served, and included a very interesting parsley macaron.
A good nights sleep followed in what was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I did not want to leave.
For overnight stays at The Halkin by COMO (www.comohotels.com/thehalkin)
General enquiries or more information
Tel +44 (0) 20 7333 1000
Fax +44 (0) 20 7333 1100
The Halkin, Halkin Street, London,SW1X 7DJ
* Disclaimer – I was invited to stay at the hotel and enjoy a dinner in the Ametsa restaurant for the opportunity to review both.